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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Sep 21, 2018

It is Sunday night and there was harvest activity in the neighborhood with both corn and soybeans being harvested. Luckily we didn’t have the rush to harvest like the poor souls down in the Carolinas did as hurricane Florence bore down on those two states. I have not talked to anyone who has gone through a heavy hurricane but years ago one of the eastern agronomist who covered the east coast for DeKalb showed pictures of the mess in the fields following their big storm and the corn stalks looked like a field of pick-up-sticks, all squished down into two to four feet of water. Needless to say there was nothing salvageable from those fields.

It does sound like the heavy rains and flooding will do the majority of the damage. Based on news reports the shingling and repair crews will be busy for many months and years. Luckily it was not a category 4 like they had predicted. It may be a wakeup call telling us not to build houses on the sand dune. There is a reason no Indians sent up permanent camp on those island or along the inter-coastal waterways.

In a new and potentially ominous note Thompson Reuters was reporting last Friday that African Swine Fever has been detected in the wild boar herd in Belgium near the French border. This disease had been spreading among swine herds in China for the past few weeks and many growers were forced to depopulate to stop the spread. It had also been found in the eastern bloc countries of the EU. After seeing how quickly bird flu spread in the Midwest a few years ago and knowing how the feral hog population has grown in the southern U.S. we have to stay vigilant here. There are still a few unanswered questions about that epidemic and how it moved opposite of wild bird migration.

Harvest time

How will yields turn out this fall as most guys and gals take to the fields with their combines? It is likely to be a very mixed bag. We want tremendous yield from all of our fields while we hope those in other parts of the state and Midwest come up short. With the USDA bumping corn yields in Illinois up to 214 Bu/A based on their models, and actual checks by real life Illinois farmers reporting 180 to 200 Bu/A in fields they expected to produce 240 to 260 Bu/A, there seems to be a disconnect in someone’s figuring. Many of those mid and late July temps were too warm in many areas for optimum grain fill.

I had the chance to head down thru Southeast Iowa last week and it was astounding to see so many acres laid flat with the big wind storm that went thru on Tuesday of the Farm Progress Sshow. By flat it means that in many of the fields less than 10 percent of the stalks had not kinked over about a foot above the ground. The condition of the stalks varied with a small percentage being very white and healthy while most were brown and hollowed on the inside. Most had the brownish mottling on them along with Anthracnose.

In the worst of the areas being able to pick up enough ears will be a challenge. Having purchased wind insurance and getting the wind within the required time frame means that some decent flat fields that could yield 100 to 150 Bu/A may be abandoned due to insurance requirements. The current question among the affected growers is how to best manage the abandoned ears to enhance kernel germination this fall so volunteer problems happen this fall versus in 2019. The threat of huge populations of volunteer corn plants in second year corn could be enough to mandate beans being planted in those fields in 2019.

Many of the fields I scouted last week lost more of their greenness as the near constant moisture film on the leaves during the very wet week allowed Eyespot and Southern rust lesions to consume more leaf tissue at the top of the plants. Southern rust spores must have moved in from a southerly location while Eyespot loved the wet leaves on plants already under stress. Many of those fields in northern Iowa fields had stayed quite green until that week and its heavy rains hit. Plus by now most of the fungicide that had been applied weeks ago had lost their effectiveness.

Soybean harvest

A high percentage of the bean fields are showing some degree of yellowing. The most mature will be harvested this week. We have learned thru experience that a hailstorm can quickly knock a high percentage of the beans out of the pods. The early harvest reports I have been hearing tell of bean yields being slightly above expectations.

The podded node counts are lower than normal. What might make up for this shortfall are the size of the seeds and pod counts on the upper nodes along with terminal clusters. Those clusters and last nodes are often holding 12 to 16 pods per plant, which is above average. Good levels of K and S in the soil or applied via Y-drops or foliar application help to supply the minerals most needed by the plants to complete pod fill. The term ‘Bulker’ is the term used to identify mineral mixes that will help the plants supply those minerals most needed by the seed filling later R-stages”. Ray Rawson would typically apply foliar applications every 10 to 14 days as he knew he was helping the plants to add seven to nine bushels with each application of minerals during the pod filling stage.

Nematodes anyone

In wet years the damage done to the bean plants is often not as distinct and damaging as in dry years. In northern Iowa’s wet summer the actual bushel loss on rolling ground could be greater as higher overall yield could be achieved. With the Fayette source of resistance being less effective than it was five to ten years ago, it may be wise to scout your fields and pull soil samples as prescribed in SCN bulletins. Late in the growing season is when peak populations are reached. Monitoring your cyst and egg counts is the best way to begin your program to manage the small pests. Finally there are several new products that have the potential to control SCN. Varnimo from Lido Chem, Ethos from FMC are built around Bacillus Amyloliqeufaciens. Nemasan from O2YS, which is built around the same enzyme, chitinase, which dissolves chitin is also on the list as an EPA registered Nematicides. ReDox has a botanical extract that seems to repel SCN while protecting plants against the stress damage done by the pest. Unfortunately the one testing program that is most watched by Iowa bean farmers did not include these, even though independent trials verified their efficacy. In southern and western states where peanuts, cotton, almonds or strawberries are grown the use of heavy duty, highly toxic fumigants are used in spite of fields having to be tarped or respirators having to be worn for the operators’ protection. If our focus is soil health, those products are off limits and can be in the $400 plus per acre.

Dry and N applications

The one season after harvest season is that of applying fertilizer. For the third or fourth year in a row low grain prices are likely to put a damper on dry fertilizer applications. Skipping application or reducing rates may be permissible in some fields and not in others. Having current soil test results to rely on is a necessity. Maintain a solid program where no set of field analyses are more than four years old. If your soil sampling and analyses need to be updated this year, make your decisions now when manpower and equipment can be in place once the fields have been harvested. And if you have not been requesting that micro nutrient levels are tested, consider requesting that those are included in the other lab work.

This season again taught us that stabilizers can be very effective in reducing N loss, if they last long enough. Hopefully there will be trials were different stabilizers were applied with yield checks made. They are not all alike and vary in their effectiveness.

Keeping notes

As you spend time at harvest it is typically a great time to make observations and take notes, either in long hand, or on a pocket tablet or I-pad. The presence of weed patches, a decline in plant health or response to some stress could be worth noting when planning for 2019. With a few of the new products offering curative action such observations could help make decisions about certain seed or in-furrow application for 2019 more based on fact.

Stay alert and be safe during the upcoming harvest and tillage season.

Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143 or www.CentralIowaAg.com.

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